The Roots of War…the Road to Peace airs Wednesday, June 17 on KERA-TV

June 3, 2009 214-740-9377

The Roots of War…the Road to Peace
airs Wednesday, June 17

The Roots of War… the Road to Peace, provides an intriguing look at the complexity of terrorism and the events that led to 9/11. The 90 minute documentary examines Islamist radicals and their brand of terrorism and its impact on the world stage. Through the eyes and voices of key experts, scholars and those most affected, Roots examines history, facts and analysis and gives perspective on the social and political reasons behind most acts of terrorism. It looks at the conflicts in the Middle East that have created a breeding ground for these acts of violence and the role the United States plays.

At a time in history when we are still fighting the “war against terror” the McCuistion team (Niki/ Dennis (producers of the McCuistion Program, now in its 20th year with KERA, Channel 13), takes an in depth, non-partisan and balanced look at terrorism. “Our purpose was to give historical context and as balanced a perspective as possible on the social, human, geo-political and economic costs of terrorism, whose seeds were sown throughout history in the varied conflicts between the great civilizations and religions of the world.” says Niki McCuistion, executive producer- director of the documentary. “We believe we succeeded in presenting an objective look at a complex issue that continues to dramatically impact our everyday lives.”

Shot on location in Baghdad, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and the US, the documentary includes excerpts from over 300 hours of interviews and footage. The documentary presents perspective on many sides of the issue through the opinions and views as expressed by the everyday ‘man” on the street , students, and experts, from Hezbollah, military, spiritual leaders, government officials, academics and scholars and those who set public policy. Among others, the experts include, two former US Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, The Honorable Robert W. Jordan, on assignment during 9/11, The Honorable James C. Oberwetter, Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, the Grand Ayatollah Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah, Former Associate Deputy Director of the FBI, Oliver” Buck” Revell, Dr. Eran Lerman, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee in Jerusalem, and two of the leading Islamic experts in the world, Dr. Akbar Ahmad, and Dr. John Esposito.

The Roots of War… the Road to Peace was initially funded by a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation Inc. for the Study and Teaching of the Science of Self- Government., and present funders of the McCuistion Program. The team: Niki McCuistion: producer-director and co-interviewer, Dennis McCuistion, narrator and co-interviewer and Phil Smith, lead camera and co-editor, started the Roots of War odyssey in 2004 when they first journeyed to the Middle East. “We wanted to see and explore the ways in which the roots of war were being fertilized with money, power, and ideology throughout the Middle East and examine the geo-political implications of these conflicts,” says Dennis McCuistion. Their first stop- Baghdad. Within hours of their arriving and only 2 blocks from their hotel, they encountered a suicide bombing which took out several city blocks.

Their unexpected immersion in terrorism as well as encounters with everyday citizens, in the various locations they went to quickly showed them that what you see on most news’ programs is not the full story. “We were striving for balance and wanted people to understand there are more than just”two” sides to it all,” said Niki. “Based on what is on our “news” I don’t believe any of the factions are treated “justly” by mainstream media, and consequently we as Americans, “tend to polarize.” We wanted more than just CNN sound bites and to truly get at the roots that have grown this escalating conflict.”

The team spent March of 2004 on location. When the two men returned home Niki stayed on in Israel, going to Turkey for additional interviews before returning home. In September of ’04 Niki returned to Lebanon and Syria, at the time of the Hezbollah pullout from Lebanon, “to capture the feel of the country’ and the true story. The interviewers, Niki and Dennis, continued their interviews in the United States throughout 2004 and 2005, with Niki revisiting Saudi Arabia in ’05.

The documentary was originally scheduled to air on KERA, January 29, 2006, with an initial private screening at the Dallas- Angelika Theatre on January 23. The doc, originally two hours in length, was well received and so it was a shock to get feedback protesting its views a few days after the private screening. The protest, from the Freedom and Justice Organization and several Muslim community leaders claimed a lack of balance, views from only a small number of Muslim scholars as well as some perceived inaccuracies. For several reasons, airing was postponed until the “claims” could be more closely examined.

After several meetings with Channel 13, members of the Muslim community, and the McCuistion crew, the decision was made to shorten the doc from its original two hour length to 90 minutes and revisit several areas. This involved re-editing, revetting the documentary, and continuing to update footage and interviews so it could stay current. Since the original funding had been put to good use in the first documentary- subsequent work was funded by the producer and co- editors; Niki and Phil Smith, and included several visits by Niki to the Middle East to conduct new interviews and continue conversations with key experts and scholars on the topic.

Niki states,” I stand by my original work, much of which is included. As I had clearly said the premise is and was sound. The result is a 90 minute documentary that brings the original premise of the documentary , that of examining the roots of war that were sown in the conflict between and among the great religions of the world and explore the ways in which those roots have been fertilized with money, power , ideology and the geo-political changes throughout the Middle East”.

For more information: contact: Niki, 214-750- 5157 and visit, for more of the story.


Comments (13)

Jim W.June 19th, 2009 at 10:50 am

The show was great. Thanks to you and all your crew for such a courageous stand. I especially liked the part where you recommended that the US government stop supporting dictators. I also think that some questions that everyone in America are asking were answered such as: how does a terrorist become a terrorist? Thank you for your courage and your commitment that the story be told.
I hope the back lash is minimal and that you and your team get the credit you deserve for telling a story that is very difficult to tell.

Ahmad S.June 19th, 2009 at 10:51 am

Excellent- congratulations. This is the most balanced perspective of this issue I have seen in a long time.
As different from your first version as night and day.

Robert B.June 19th, 2009 at 10:51 am

Excellent program. I thought the presentation was balanced, well documented and thoughtfully presented.

Howard W.June 19th, 2009 at 10:52 am

Wow! You’re to be commended. lots to cram in, very well thought out.You were fair. When will this air again?

ScottJune 19th, 2009 at 10:53 am

Again, congratulations on “Roots of War”. Kudos!

ScottJune 19th, 2009 at 10:53 am

I really enjoyed the program last evening. The segment on the history of Islam going back to its “roots” in the six century was brilliant. The context it provided to the present day conflict was compelling in that reminded me of the how interconnected the Christian, Hebrew and Muslim tribes were, and perhaps still are in certain respects.

I hope that you will continue to push for wider distribution of the Roots of War. It really does hit the mark on balance and fairness relative to the perception issue of Muslims and Arabs in America. There is much that the average American does not understand about Islam, and I believe your show helped to diminish that negative stereotype that unfortunately is so pervasive in our country.

Finally, I applaud your determination in seeing this project through and thank you for making a difference.

David SchulzJune 19th, 2009 at 11:46 am

Watched Roots of War, Road to Peace with great interest and deep appreciation for the effort it took. They did a fine job encompassing the topic, balanced and credible. The Hatton W. Sumners Foundation can be proud… in fact, when my recorder (I tivoed it) kicked in, the first words on the screen were the Foundation’s name. Bravo! When we speak, or have lunch, we can discuss its virtues more fully; suffice it to say it was gripping enough to watch it through in one sitting. These days, that takes good writing and superior editing.

James C. Oberwetter, Amb. (ret)June 19th, 2009 at 11:47 am

I really enjoyed the work you all did. It was comprehensive and very useful for those in a learning mode about from whence the current crop of terrorists emerge for the most part and the elements which drive them. A little more on takfir would help focus on where violent jihad finds its roots, but at least it is there and is most discussions and books it is still lacking. David Kilcullen’s book, The Accidental Guerilla, is one of the first to distinguish the takfir sliver of hate.

Of course we did not know about the deep dispute over version one. I do not see anything which would cause such divides in the great work we saw. We wish you all the best in making it available as well as encouraging you on to address women’s issues and others you have identified.

M. L. NeillJune 20th, 2009 at 12:46 pm

My primary thought was that mainstream Americans will be reminded that our enemy is not Saudi Arabia, Iran , Iraq, Pakistan….the Islam religion or Muslims. Our enemies are the fundamentalists- who use terrorist tactics to kill Americans, Israelis, etc. They want us to fight back to show other fundamentalists that we are indeed the evil ones- American satans. Hopefully, Roots….will create more understanding ; more communication. I am grateful , Niki, that you didn’t quit even though it cost you much in use of your time and your money.

Thelma Morris-LindseyJune 25th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

FINALLY…a documentary that commands that the viewing audience listen with our ears, our eyes, and our hearts. The Roots of War…The Road to Peace explores the historical background, its many truths and its many voices…But then Niki takes a giant leap and she is willing to go where few have gone. She is willing to speak of our extraordinary ability, as human beings, to transcend the atrocities of war and create global peace. I look forward to the “road to peace.”

Jean & HerbJune 26th, 2009 at 5:28 pm

We are the ones who should be thanking you for the invitation. I was delighted that we got to be a part of the celebration and the discussion. I wish KERA had aired it earlier so we could have had a discussion after the film. Comments and reactions that I heard afterward were very positive. I can see great use of the documentary for classroom and teaching discussion. I think you should be thinking about how to follow this one so you could develop a series.
It seemed to me that you demonstrated balance of views and I didn’t see evidence of the concerns voiced proceeding the showing. Keep up the good work as we cheer you on to the next project!
Jean and Herb

Allen MJune 26th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Hello Niki,
I watched the film and was expecting to write before today, but our internet has been completely down until late last night. I hate technology! I liked the film much better this time than last. You did a very good job of laying out the players and situations that created and then fostered terrorism. Your interviewees were knowledgeable and articulate. I felt you showed many different points of view effectively, helping me and others, I’m sure, have a more clear picture of terrorism. It is an ambitious film in scope and should find an audience beyond Dallas. And congratulations. I know this has been an arduous journey. I hope it’s been worth it. Good luck.
Allen M.

Mark HeadJune 29th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

The Roots of War provides meaningful new insights into the thoughts and perspectives of many of the people directly involved in the broad turmoil now stretching from the mid- to far east. Its rapid-fire sequencing of quotes on a wide array of topics helps the viewer distill the deluge of fragmented information on terror and its causes into a more concise and digestible format.

Mark Head
Chief Solutions Office

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